Daily Trust (Abuja)

1 December 2012

Nigeria: The Cost of Repeated Blunders

opinion

From all indications, the efforts to restore confidence among supporters and members of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) do not seem to be making any progress. In fact, the appointment of caretakers committees in troubled states like Kano State has only created new problems instead of achieving reconciliation of members.

The national leadership of the party, especially the self-righteous clique misleading General Buhari to endorse wrong and ill-thought out decisions, should be blamed for the trouble waters the so-called caretaker committees have found themselves in.

When the caretaker committee of the CPC in Kano State recently called a meeting of stakeholders, the invitation was loudly and largely ignored. The meeting was boycotted when members of the CPC in the Kano State chapter suspected that the caretaker committee came with a hidden agenda to adopt a particular politician for the 2015 governorship election without following democratic process. This attempt at imposition was largely responsible for the poor performance of the CPC in the governorship and House of Assembly elections in 2011.

Leaders may be forgiving for making mistakes, but cannot be forgiven if they refuse to learn any lesions from those mistakes. The mentality of supplanting the wishes of the voters to please the selfish agenda of any clique in the party will put the CPC at another risk of being defeated. In democracy, the will of the people is superior to the interest of a few party leaders who are determined to undermine voter sovereignty by imposing candidates on them. If anybody is bent on such a tactless political course again, let them know the danger of pushing their luck too far.

How can an opposition Party like the CPC be a credible alternative when a few leaders within the party are not ready to respect the wishes the voters? Despotism is inconsistent with democratic values. In this age and time when democracy is fast becoming a dominant sentiment around the world, no power or few individuals can crush the will of the people without reaping a huge political cost. For a party that once mismanaged its good will, thanks to the myopia and naivety of a clique in the CPC, it is dangerous at this stage to try another shenanigans by imposing the agenda of imposition even before the 2015 election are yet to commence.

Recently, a key CPC member, Barrister Mamman Abubakar Dan Musa from Katsina State, accused the a top official of the party of undermining everything democracy stands for by wrongly advising General Buhari to endorse strategically dangerous policies of imposition which led the voters to revolt against the party in the 2011 general elections, especially the governorship and House of Assembly elections.

Rather than addressing these ugly events that had cost the CPC the election in 2011, the party leaders are still detached from reality. In fact, regimentation has no place in democracy. How can any truly democratic party deny the people the right to elect leaders of their own choice? The CPC which perceives itself as more credible than the ruling PDP, has a duty to demonstrate higher moral standards. It is not enough for the CPC leaders to mouth democracy but taking measures or imposing undemocratic policies such as the imposition of candidates.

Are these caretakers committees appointed to listen to the wishes of the majority of the party supporters or are they on a mission to repeat the mistakes of the imposition of candidates? If that is their agenda, it will fail as it did before and undermine the party's capacity to assert itself in 2011. In life, it is dangerous to push our luck too far. During the 2011 elections, the entire CPC House of Assembly candidates withdrew from the contest in protest against the decision of the party national leaders to impose a gubernatorial candidate other than the one voted at the primaries. Despite the fact that Mohammed Abacha won 144,000 voters to defeat his rival, Colonel Lawal Ja'afaru Isa, the party leaders ignored the results and imposed the loser as candidate.

Predictably, that tactless decision was the beginning of the crisis the CPC found itself today. In democracy, the private interest of party leader should not be allowed to replace the will of the people. Unfortunately, General Buhari, who should have insisted on due process being followed in the election of candidates, seems powerless to resist the manipulation of this clique in the party. General Buhari's passion for justice should include rejection of any policy intended to undermine basic democratic practices. The imposition of candidates by the CPC leaders is also a form of rigging in disguise. Once you conduct any process with the purpose of giving unfair advantage to one party at the expense of another that is also rigging.

Refusing to honour the results of primaries because the officially favoured aspirant has lost the votes is another dimension of rigging. Tampering with the results of election at the polling booths, collation centers or manipulating the out come of gubernatorial primaries to favour the party official candidate rather than one the voters wanted are all rigging. The purpose of the caretaker committees should be to re-unite and reconcile aggrieved party members and supporters rather than going back to the same path that caused the CPC the current internal crisis. Can the CPC defeat the ruling party without regard for the will of the people or carrying out genuine reconciliation? The CPC leaders should not think that in life you will be lucky always.

Fagge wrote in from Yakubu Gowon Way, Kaduna.

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